January 21, 2016

Measure Bans State Business with Contractors or Investment Companies that Boycott, Divest, or Sanction American Allies

The New York State Senate today passed a bill that prohibits the state from doing business with companies that seek to harm Israel and other American allies through boycotts and discriminatory economic agendas. The bill (S6378A), sponsored by Senator Jack Martins (R-C-I, Mineola) and Senator Simcha Felder (D, Brooklyn), expands existing state law to prevent New York from entering into a state contract or investment with those seeking to economically harm American allies.

Senate Majority Leader John J. Flanagan said, “New York taxpayers need to be protected from becoming unwitting supporters of those who are trying to undermine our greatest ally, Israel, and other critical allies. We are demonstrating that New York will continue to stand with our international partners and protect our shared interests.”

Senator Martins said, “Our tax dollars should not be used to aid those who wish to harm our friends. Israel and our other allies stand side by side with us to protect New Yorkers and all Americans. We owe it to them to ensure our own resources are not used in efforts to attack them. This sends a strong message that New York State supports those who have continually supported us.”

Senator Felder said, “Those who advocate and engage in boycotts against Israel, and who promote anti-Semitic ideology, have no place as a state contractor. This is very meaningful legislation that protects our nation’s allies and stands up against bigotry and injustice.”

Senator Martin Golden (R-C-I, Brooklyn) said, “New York has always stood by our Nation’s most trusted ally Israel and will do whatever it takes to help protect their interests and safety. Today we say New York is closed for business for those contractors who participate in subversive activity or try to disrupt Israel’s economy. We will remain ever diligent that New York remains steadfast in its commitment to our allies.”

Current New York State law prohibits the State from directly engaging in an international boycott against American-allied nations. New York City has a similar prohibition as part of its administrative code. However, the state could indirectly support a boycott of American allies by providing state monies to businesses or individuals that participate in boycotts like the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement aimed at causing economic harm to Israel and the Israeli people. 

The legislation passed today would expand New York’s law by prohibiting state contracting with, or state investment in businesses or individuals that promote or engage in activities to boycott, sanction, or divest in Israel and other American allied nations. This would prevent the state from becoming unwilling participants in a discriminatory agenda. 

The state would use publicly available information to develop a reference list of companies, organizations, or other entities that have engaged in or promoted boycotts of American allies. New Jersey, Illinois, and South Carolina have adopted similar laws to ensure that their taxpayers are not paying to support these entities.

The bill will be sent to the Assembly.